Colombo, July 10: Sri Lanka is likely to launch its free visa on arrival programme for citizens of 39 countries and regions, excluding India and China, starting on August 1 in a bid to attract more tourists, media reports said on Wednesday.

The country's Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga said that a cabinet approval had earlier been received to implement the visa on arrival programme from May 1, but it was postponed due to the Easter Sunday terror attacks, reported Xinhua news agency.

However, since the country's security situation has now normalised he was now in discussions with the other ministers to implement the programme from August 1. Once the visa-free programme begins, the government will also introduce a new "tracking system" to ensure that no suspicious persons enter the country.

The programme will initially be implemented for six months and if it is successful the government will implement it for Chinese and Indian tourists as well, Amaratunga said. The Sri Lankan government recently said that it aims to reach 2.5 million tourist arrivals this year and a revenue of over $5 billion.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jul 10, 2019 07:30 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website